MONROVIA – The Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia, one of the few new political parties recently certificated and recognized by the National Elections Commission (NEC) has urged Liberians to summon the courage and resolve to resist any attempt for the existence and thriving of an imperial presidency which could be catastrophic to the country’s nascent democracy. EFFL said its decision to institute lawsuit against the implementation of Executive Order #117 issued by President George Manneh Weah was geared towards crippling any subtle move to force imperial presidency on the country.
Speaking to the media yesterday to provide details on why the party took the decision, Mr. Emmanuel Gonguoi, the Political Leader and Commander in Chief of EFFL said having seen a lot of illegalities under the Weah led administration, the party has decided to step up to the occasion to begin to challenging some of them starting with the Executive Order #117 issued by the President to set aside the existing law on the Code of Conduct law that was signed by the President and printed into handbills.
He said it will spell doom for the country if the citizens sit down supinely while the President goes about freely issuing executive orders without any challenge, stressing it will be even worst that President Weah being a populist leader could act unilaterally outside the constitution and laws of the land to make changes to existing laws or taking actions that affect governance structure in the country.
“If the President can issue an Executive Order and it can be respected by state actors, tomorrow the President can also issue another order to undermine the GAC, LACC, etc, so we have to take steps now.
“There should not be any room for a powerful presidency in this dispensation. Weah is a populist, if you allow a populist President like Weah to be taking action without opposition that could be catastrophic for our democracy and country
“It is time to stop the imperial presidency. It is not possible to continue like this. I think we have existing laws on the Code of Conduct which were enacted by both the lower and upper houses of the national legislature respectfully, signed by the President and printed into handbills. Legally we do not see it necessary for the President of the country to issue an executive order that will suspend the existing code of conduct law”, he said.
Gonguoi said that what the President has done with the Code of Conduct was to suspend it through the executive order #117 so having seen the danger in the process, the EFFKL decided to approach the Supreme Court to place a writ of probation against it taking effect.
While dismissing the insinuation that the party has no clout to put up a challenge where the bigger parties before it could not venture, Gonguoi said the EFFL is not in a league to compete with other parties in terms of viewership or followership but was formed to legally contest against all illegalities that have been going on under the Weah dispensation that have adversely affected the overall development of the country. He said they have seen all these lapses in the past but there were some hindrances that impeded them from speaking out, one being they did not have the legal standing at the time but with the recognition given them by NEC as a full fledge political party, they are energized to speak out for the Liberian people.
“We wanted the legal instrument to validate our stand and now that we have the instrument with our registration and recognition, we will pursue everything legally possible to challenge all the lapses in the system.
“For example, the LACC should have been given full prosecutorial power but the government did not take step in that direction, instead they were thinking about reducing the power of the LACC
“We have the situation where those who committed so many crimes have not been prosecuted and the government has not done anything to bring them to justice”, he said.
The young political activist said the Supreme Court has shown keen interest in their lawsuit and has scheduled a conference between the Ministry of Justice and the EFFL on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at which time the issue could be settled, stressing that it is the hope that the Supreme Court will be favorably disposed to their case by setting aside the President’s order.
He said why they await the conference, the party is contemplating on issuing a writ of mandamus, to force the President to implement the Code of Conduct from a holistic perspective and not from a partial perspective.
“You cannot be in an active government position and at the same time holding an active party position. We see people like Janga Kowo, Jefferson Koijee, etc in active government positions and at the same time in leadership positions in their party. The law must ensure that they leave the government position so that they take over the positions in their party.
The tough talking leader of the radical EFFL said it is high time that the apex court take full responsibility to interpret the code of conduct bill so that successive governments will not have their own interpretation of it which will be against the interest of the opposition. “We need a legal interpretation that will be used as a reliance in subsequent instances so that no other government comes up to use their own interpretation to affect the opposition”, he said.
When asked what could be their next stand if the Supreme Court does not rule in their favor, Gonquoi said they are not looking in that direction because they have a solid case that should be able to sway the lawsuit in their favor but eventually if it is otherwise there are two options available to them.
“We don’t think we can lose the case but if it happens against us, we have two options, one is being diplomatic or civil, which we are exerting now, that is going to the court to challenge it. And when this fails, the next one and definitely they know that will not fail, is to call out the Liberian people to resist it. We hope to reach there but we will be compelled to do so if the diplomatic or the civil means fail”, he said.
Responding to a question whether the EFFL will field a presidential candidate or collaborate with any of the existing parties in the country, he said their preliminary decision for now is that the party will not be presenting a presidential candidate but will contest the various available legislative seats, just as he is running for the senate seat for Margibi County and that party will seek collaboration with other parties.
“For now, we don’t think we can present any presidential candidate but we will collaborate with likeminded political parties to oppose President George Weah and his CDC establishment. I have directed the National Executive Committee to begin the process of reaching out to other parties who are serious about democratically removing Weah from power”, he said.
He also ruled out completely the possibility of doing anything with the CDC and warned that any member found negotiating with the CDC in any form and manner, will be expelled.
“I was unequivocal at the convention that anyone who negotiates with the CDC will be expelled. We are resolved to taking Weah from power. That man has violated the constitution and has underperformed as President, he has not led the country in good faith. So we have resolved to get him out of power. I have directed the National Executive Committee to begin discussion with opposition political parties.
“We want to see a leader who has a clear agenda for the country.
“We want to see a leader that will put George Weah in jail when he might have been defeated. I don’t want to see anybody telling me ‘you know, we are the same people, let by-gone be by-gone’, we need leaders that will prosecute criminals in this country”, he said.